Sunday, November 26, 2017

December in Our Homeschool

For the last few years, each December we've had a special month in our homeschool. I let a few things drop off my homeschool mental to-do list (such as science and history exposure), and instead we shift our focus to holiday-related activities. This makes December a month to celebrate the flexibility of homeschooling while we dig into more artistic and musical pursuits.

December Curriculum Focus

Our curriculum focus for December includes the following. I don't require my children to participate in these activities, but nonetheless they generally both choose to participate in all of these to varying degrees.

  • Family music recital
  • Advent crafts
  • Homemade Christmas presents
  • Family reading of A Christmas Carol script
  • Winter and Christmas-themed read-alouds
  • Winter and Christmas movies

Family Music Recital

The children and I choose a few Christmas songs to play together. Throughout the month, we practice individually and together, as much as we each desire to. On Christmas Eve, we perform the songs together. The instruments we have on-hand for our Christmas songs are:
(If there is interest, I can post more details about how and what we do for our December music together.)

Advent Crafts

As a fun way to count down the days until Christmas, my children enjoy doing Advent crafts, which have one activity for each day from December 1st through 24th.  My kids have especially enjoyed doing the Advent Colouring Pages from Activity Village, such as the Christmas train and village, which can be cut out and made into a scene.

The Activity Village Advent resources used to be free, but are no longer.  Some other free options I have found include the following:
Commonly, my kids are really excited about Advent crafts for the first couple weeks of December, and then their interest fizzles out. This is totally okay, and I just let them participate as much (or as little) as they want to.

Homemade Christmas Presents

In the week leading up to Christmas, my children and I get to work on making homemade Christmas presents for family and friends.  The presents we've made have included Christmas tree ornaments, cardboard and/or popsicle stick toys, artwork, and food treats. This is an inexpensive and sweet way to shift the focus of Christmas away from ourselves and onto what we can make for others.

Family Reading of A Christmas Carol Script
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a wonderful little story about the real meaning of Christmas. My family has enjoyed doing a reading of A Christmas Carol script for the last few years. Sometimes, this has been as simple as us all reading it together on Christmas Eve; other times, it has turned into more of a project for myself and the kids in putting on a little play with figurines, costumes, and sound effects. In the weeks before Christmas, the kids and I do a few practice read-throughs of our parts so that we are ready for the Christmas Eve reading. 

Winter and Christmas-Themed Read-Alouds

Throughout the month of December, I read-aloud books which have an emphasis on winter and Christmas. These include the following:

Christmas Movies for Family Movie Night

For our weekly Family Movie Nights in December, we watch winter and Christmas movies. Some of our favorites include the following:

A Great Way to End the Year

By shifting the focus in our homeschool for December, we are able to thoroughly enjoy the last month of the year together.  Instead of feeling like we are dragging our feet or going through the motions, December has become a cherished month of homeschooling for our family.  

Do you have any December homeschool traditions to share?

Affiliate Disclosure - Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sepia - A Homeopathic Remedy for Mothers

Motherhood: at it's best, it can fill our days with joy, sweetness, and contentment. Yet, on the worst days, being a mother can be one of the hardest challenges of life. The ups-and-downs of pregnancy, the constant demands of children, the feeling that we will never be able to have a single moment to ourselves; these feelings seem to just come with the territory of being a mother. But is there a better way?

There is one well-known homeopathic remedy that is of immense help to mothers. It can help those bad days feel less dire and dramatic, and make them happen less often. Homeopathic Sepia to the rescue!

What is Sepia?

photo from
Although the word Sepia is commonly used to describe the reddish-brown tone of old photographs, the origin of this word is actually the Latin word for cuttlefish. Cuttlefish ink is a rich brown color, and it was used as an ink or drawing medium for thousands of years. Homeopathic Sepia officinalis is a remedy made from the ink of the cuttlefish.


While homeopathic treatment of chronic conditions is typically not do-it-yourself, there are certain chronic ailments that are somewhat easier to treat. These are ailments where there was an obvious trigger, known as a Never-Well-Since event or exposure. For instance, chronic ailments following head injuries are often successfully treated with Natrum sulph or Arnica, and ailments following a broken heart are often successfully treated with Ignatia or Natrum mur.

Homeopathic Sepia is listed as a top remedy for the following Never-Well-Since events/exposures [1 - Hahnemann Revisited: A Textbook of Classical Homeopathy for the Professional]:
  • Childbirth
  • Nursing
  • Postpartum depression
  • Hormonal treatment
  • Birth control pill
  • Hysterectomy
  • Puberty
  • Menopause

Clearly, Sepia's healing action has a particular focus on hormonal-induced states in women. While it is not a cure-all for each-and-every mother, nonetheless a large proportion of mothers can benefit from Sepia.

Characteristic Mental/Emotional Indications for Sepia

As with all homeopathic remedies, Sepia will work best when it matches well with the mental, emotional, and physical symptoms that a person is exhibiting. The mental/emotional picture for Sepia is one of this remedy's most striking features.

The classic picture of a Sepia woman includes:
  • mothers who feel overworked and/or overwhelmed,
  • irritability or anger specifically triggered by one's children and/or spouse,
  • feeling less affectionate or apathetic towards one's children and/or spouse, 
  • a desire to escape, even for just a few minutes of solitude, 
  • "loves her husband and children dearly but is too exhausted to feel anything but the need to get through the day's work and survive to the next," [2] and/or
  • feeling "overly conscientious about family responsibilities and thus excessively guilty about any desire or effort to avoid them" [3].
Women often assume that these feelings are just a natural part of motherhood. They may feel guilty about having these feelings or try to deny that they exist. Nonetheless, Sepia can help the body and mind become more balanced so that these feelings occur less often and with less intensity.

Additional Indications for Sepia

Some additional indications for Sepia include:
  • reduced or absent desire for sex,
  • feeling better from physical activity and/or dancing,
  • postpartum depression and/or irritability,
  • urinary problems after pregnancy,
  • weeping while relating her symptoms,
  • premenstrual symptoms including irritability and aversion to sex,
  • hot flashes,
  • nausea during pregnancy which is worse from fasting and smells or thoughts of foods,
  • pregnancy-induced varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and/or vaginitis, and
  • a wide range of other symptoms including allergies, headaches, insomnia, backaches, and literally hundreds of other conditions.
Although Sepia's overall sphere of action includes a wide variety of symptoms, that does not mean it is "the" remedy for all of those conditions. There are over a thousand different homeopathic remedies, and common symptoms such as headaches are associated with hundreds of different remedies.  For instance, in my homeopathic software, 845 remedies are listed under "constipation" and 1,249 remedies are listed for "headache".

What makes homeopathic remedies so effective is that they are selected specifically for each individual. No homeopath would recommend Sepia for every person who has a headache. However, if the person is a mother who is exhibiting some of Sepia's characteristic mental/emotional indications (described above), then Sepia is likely to be a good match.

Success With Sepia for Mothers

In my own life, I have found Sepia to be tremendously useful in helping to balance my emotions and leave me feeling contented with motherhood:

  • During my second pregnancy, I developed irritability and anger that I had never experienced before. By the time I found homeopathy nearly three years later, I was often blowing up at my children and felt quite overwhelmed and exhausted. Some days, when my husband would return home from work, I had reached the point where I felt like running away, and I would have to go for a solitary walk just to escape for a short time. I felt guilty for having these feelings, and didn't want to admit them even to myself. Sepia, along with a few other well-chosen chronic remedies, has made a huge difference. I now rarely feel irritable, and I never feel irritability or anger to anywhere near the same magnitude as I used to. I no longer experience that desire to run away, and I no longer feel overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood and homemaking.

Some examples of treatment with Sepia from the homeopathic literature include the following:
  • "A 35-year-old woman became pregnant again soon after weaning her second child, then 22 months old. By six weeks she was exhausted and nauseous before mealtimes and would have to eat a little something to relieve it, but the smell of roast chicken and other favorite foods made her feel even sicker and forced her to lie down to try to sleep. Also sensitive to odors like soap and perfume, she felt better when she remembered to exercise, although at their worst her symptoms immobilized her and made her crabby and apathetic. Sepia 30 soon wrought an amazing change in her: within two weeks she had regained her strength and appetite, feeling only minor nausea occasionally from strong perfume. She remained in good health and went on to give birth at home without any difficulty." [3 - Homeopathic Medicines for Pregnancy and Childbirth]
  • "A woman of 26 consulted me for irregular periods, the interval averaging 35 to 40 days, often with brownish staining around the midcycle. After a home birth three years ago she had nursed the child for a year, with hemorrhoids and constipation developing and her periods getting off track during that time. Although reluctant to speak about her personal life, she was openly resentful of her husband, who was devoted to the child but highly critical of her and scornful of her opinions, and she could no longer tolerate making love with him. After a round of Sepia... her periods quickly reverted to normal, while her other symptoms improved significantly, and she herself became much more assertive with her husband. No further treatment was needed." [3 - Homeopathic Medicines for Pregnancy and Childbirth]
  • "...emotional apathy may develop from some profound sorrow or disappointment in a reserved individual who cannot allow herself to feel because she cannot afford it. A case in point was a 26-year-old woman with amenorrhoea [the absence of menstruation] who, three years earlier, had suffered severely from an unfortunate love... Since that time she had been cold and unresponsive with her family and friends and toward the world in general... She was polite and dutiful, but completely indifferent... Initially there was no dramatic change. Sepia can be a slow starter. Yet on a visit two months later she was a different person - not carefree or even happy, but more caring and responsive, and her menses had resumed. No further remedy was prescribed, since the single dose had obviously reached some deep level of her emotional disharmony and was beginning to heal it. Instead, the remedy was allowed to continue dispelling her 'stilled' or suppressed emotions, as she blossomed into a warm, lovely and now happy human being." [2 - Portraits of Homoeopathic Medicines]

Dosage and Potency Guidance

I generally advise starting with homeopathic Sepia in the 30c potency, although for some people it may be more appropriate to start with a lower or higher potency depending upon their individual sensitivity level. When used very soon after the precipitating event (such as pregnancy or childbirth), it is possible that only one dose is needed for the body to restore balance. When there has been a time lapse between the event and the usage of Sepia, more than one dose may be needed.

If the Sepia state has become part of the chronic symptoms picture (with symptoms lasting more than 6 weeks), a good rule of thumb for simple dosing is to wait-and-watch for several weeks after the first dose to see if the Sepia is making a positive difference. With all homeopathic remedies, the least number of doses is always the best. Homeopathic remedies work by stimulating the body to heal itself. Anytime there is a noticeable improvement, no more doses should be given unless the symptoms start to regress (or unless there is a plateau, where the symptoms get better to a point but then stop improving). And if no improvement is observed within 3 doses of taking a remedy, the remedy should be discontinued.

While Sepia typically works quite well for treating mothers, in cases where the Sepia indications are long-standing it is possible that some other remedies will be needed before Sepia can do its work. For instance, if there have been significant traumas, losses, or drug-exposures in the meantime since the Sepia state was induced, those more-recent events/exposures may need to be treated before Sepia will be able to be effective.  In those instances, consulting with a well-trained homeopath is more likely to lead to long-term success with Sepia.


[1] De Schepper, Luc (2001). Hahnemann Revisited: A Textbook of Classical Homeopathy for the Professional. Santa Fe, NM: Full of Life Publications.
[2] Coulter, Catherine R. (1998). Portraits of Homoeopathic Medicines: Psychophysical Analyses of Selected Constitutional Types, Vol. 1. St. Louis, MO: Quality Medical Publishing, Inc.
[3] Moskowitz, Richard M.D. (1992). Homeopathic Medicines for Pregnancy and Childbirth. Berkely, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or licensed healthcare professional. I am a homeopathic practitioner whose services are considered complementary and alternative by the state of New Mexico. The uses of homeopathic remedies described herein are provided for educational use only.

Affiliate Disclosure - Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Falafel with Jajeek - Fried Chickpea Patties with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (gluten-free)

As part of our ancient history studies this Fall, I am digging into foods from ancient Mesopotamia, (which is in the region that is now known as the Middle East). Archaeological evidence shows that chickpeas were one of the earliest crops to be used in farming, as domesticated chickpea remains have been found dating back to around 10,000 years ago. In relatively modern times, one of the most common ways to cook chickpeas is to make them into falafels.

Falafels are delicious fried dough patties made with ground chickpeas, onions, and spices. While we had previously only enjoyed falafels when eating at a local Middle Eastern restaurant, my family has been delighted that I can now make falafels at home. The easiest way to make falafel dough is with a food processor, which makes it easy to grind the ingredients together. I have chosen to make our falafels into patties, so that I don't need to use quite so much oil when frying them. If you have a deep fryer, you could certainly make this falafel recipe into balls instead of patties.

My falafel recipe begins with soaking dried chickpeas in an acidic medium overnight. This important step reduces the phytic acid antinutrient that is naturally present in grains and legumes. Once the falafels are cooked, they are topped with jajeek, which is an Iraqi cucumber yogurt sauce. Falafel and jajeek are delicious in a salad or on pita bread.

Falafel with Jajeek - Fried Chickpea Patties with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Falafel - Fried Chickpea Patties
Makes 28-30 falafels
  1. Place the chickpeas in a large glass bowl. Cover the chickpeas with plenty of filtered water, enough for them to easily double in size. Stir in 1 Tb raw apple cider vinegar. Allow to soak overnight.
  2. In the morning, drain the chickpeas. Add fresh water and another tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Allow to soak until about an hour before dinner.
  3. Drain the chickpeas well. With a 7-cup food processor, this recipe works best if you mix up the ingredients in two batches.
  4. Put half of the chickpeas and half of the falafel flavoring ingredients into the food processor. A lemon reamer works well to juice the lemon. Pulse and process until the mixture is finely ground. Dump into a large bowl.
  5. Place the remaining half of the chickpeas and falafel flavoring ingredients into the food processor.  Pulse and process until the mixture is finely ground. Add this mixture to the rest of the falafel mixture in the large bowl.
  6. Use a 3Tb scoop to create falafel balls. Place the falafel balls on a large cutting board or plate. Use your hands to flatten the falafels into patties that are ~3/4 inch thick.
  7. Begin to heat up a heavy-bottomed skillet. I like to use two 10-inch cast iron skillets to cook the falafels so that they are done cooking much more quickly.  Add enough oil to the pan to give an oil depth of ~1/3 to 1/2 inch.
  8. Once the oil is shimmering and hot (but NOT smoking), add the flattened falafel patties. Make sure to leave enough room so that the falafels are not touching each other, and will be easy to turn.
  9. Allow the falafels to cook undisturbed for a few minutes until they've reached a medium brown color. Carefully flip over each falafel patty using tongs or a spatula. Cook the second side for a few minutes until you've achieved the same medium brown color.
  10. Line a plate with paper towels. Place the cooked falafels on the paper towels to drain any excess oil.
  11. Serve the falafels with jajeek, lettuce, tomatoes, and/or pita bread.

Jajeek - Iraqi Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Makes ~3 cups

  • 1&1/2 cups plain, whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1&1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground Celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tb fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups chopped cucumber (if the skin is thick, peel the cucumbers!)
  1. Combine the yogurt, mint, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. A lemon reamer works well to juice the lemon. Stir to combine.
  2. Stir in the chopped cucumbers.
  3. Store in the refrigerator while you prepare the falafel. 

Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!